How to overcome health anxiety
We get lots of questions in our inbox about how to overcome health anxiety. Letters about getting health anxiety when stressed, what triggers health anxiety and why does health anxiety come and go? In this week's podcast we're responding to a question from a listener who has noticed that stress and anxiety are triggering anxiety about her health and we're sharing our own experience with health anxiety, a real health crisis and our favourite tips and techniques to regain calm.
QUESTION: “I’m wondering if you have any plans to cover health anxiety? I find concerns about health are a big trigger for my anxiety. In fact I often wonder if it is the other way round i.e. that in me, anxiety caused by stress, work and life in general, manifests as anxiety about health. I can now usually predict if I am going to have an anxiety flare up by how often I’ve been worrying about getting cancer or some other debilitating illness, not least mental illnesses.”
Listen to the podcast: How to Overcome Health Anxiety here
Notes from the podcast:
The mind is easily disturbed and that can manifest in all kinds of fears blowing up out of control. Sometimes it’s health, sometime we fear for loved ones, sometimes we are crippled by social anxiety.
Everyone’s mind has it’s vulnerable spots and that’s where anxiety will strike - especially if we are stressed and sensitised
Invest your mental energy in educating yourself about health instead or worrying about it. Learning about health and how to improve it is proactive and calming, worrying about health is reactive and stressful.
The truth is, when real stuff happens, we cope. Anticipatory anxiety is awful it robs us of our peace and present tense. We may dread one form of cancer, then get a test or some re-assurance then the mind will find something else. Build your inner strength. Action is always better than sitting with a head full of anxiety.
The saying an idle mind is the devil’s workshop is true. So fill your head and your heart with good information.
Move away from your mind
The challenge is to get back to feeling calm again, and that’s very hard when anxiety peaks because it can leave us paralysed by worry. So we need to move - literally.
Anxiety and fear are stuck states, the more we sit with them, the more they grow. Moving helps calm anxiety and will also bring you some mental clarity.
Moving our bodies changes our perspective. Stand up straight and look up. Looking down turns your attention inward. To shake anxiety look up and out. Drop your shoulders, take a deep breath and move…
Quick and easy ways to get moving:
Take a shower, go for a walk, or a swim, do some yoga, dance, stand up and takes some deep breaths or try Qigong - whatever appeals to you, get up and move. Better still get out the door and move.
Moving will help you snap out of the anxiety feedback loop.
Ananga: I know this from experience. For many years I couldn’t walk, I could go out on a scooter with help and that was good, or be pushed in a wheelchair which is also better than being stuck indoors, but now I’m on my feet again it’s such a blessing. And I can feel the difference to my mind to be able to choose where and when I go out in nature. It really is clearing. Not to be underestimated. One of the hardest things for me in living with mobility challenges was the effect it had on my mind. Moving is very helpful to the mind.
Upgrade and Explore
- take steps toward cleaner eating
- get out in nature and enjoy more fresh air
- treat yourself to some inspiring reading
- look up survivor stories
- consider volunteering
- deepen your spiritual practice
All these things help you be healthy mentally and physically, they are good for helping you calm anxiety and for your overall well-being.
Our 3 favourite things for overcoming health anxiey:
Bach flower remedies
Rescue Remedy - Mimulus for a known fear (i.e. a fear about your health) - White chestnut for calming unwanted looping thoughts. Bach flower remedies are available from Amazon, Nelsons and many local health stores.
“Fear of worldly things, illness, pain, accidents, poverty, of dark, of being alone, of misfortune. The fears of everyday life. These people quietly and secretly bear their dread; they do not freely speak of it to others.” – Dr. Edward Bach
There are many types of guided relaxation, some are more closely guided than others. In other words, they consistently coach and support you throughout the experience. We made a collection of guided meditations called Oasis which are very closely lead to help you find a calm when anxiety us running high. They are available as an album on iTunes and Amazon.
Finally: Set up Daily Support
Don’t wait until it gets bad, set yourself up a daily self are routine - EFT tapping, Bach Flower Remedies, audio support these are things you can easily work into your day without taking too much time.
We recommend five minutes EFT Tapping as soon as you wake up to support yourself before your mind starts bringing you it's fears. Get your flower remedies ready for the day, you can put some drops in a bottle of water and keep it with you.
Taking quick breathing breaks throughout the day, and tap during the day too if anxiety flares.
Use a guided relaxation in the evening, or before going to bed.
These will all help you get your anxiety under control again. And help your overall health too as stress won’t be such an issue and we all know stress is one of the worst things for our health.
Take action to free yourself from health anxiety today
In our Anxiety Slayer Academy we offer two courses that can help you overcome health anxiety:
How to Calm Your Fragile Mind is an in-depth walk through of understanding and making peace with uncomfortable thoughts
EFT Tapping for Anxiety Relief is a step-by-step practical course that can help you quickly and thoroughly learn EFT Tapping for unwanted thoughts (such as worries over health) and anxiety in general. It contains guided follow along sessions including: EFT for when it’s all too much, designed to help you press play and tap along for immediate relief when your anxiety is running high and you need help fast.